“Forgiving? Give me a break. There are two terror attacks within my film, I was even caught up in one of them myself and kept filming,” says Nili Tal when I suggest that her film “Saving Nur,” which follows a Gazan girl in need of a liver and kidney transplant, takes an overly forgiving attitude toward the Israeli side.Here is part of the film (Hebrew):
“I went to Duma to meet the Dawabsheh family,” she continues. “Have you been to Duma? Have you ever seen a burned child? I saw him in Sheba [Medical Center, Tel Hashomer]. I made a true film, as I see life and see the people. Don’t forget that Nur and her parents received tremendous medical treatment here. Dr. Elhanan Nahum, director of the pediatric ICU at Schneider [Children’s Medical Center] didn’t go to sleep at home with his wife and children when Nur’s life was in danger. The surgeon, Dr. Michael Gurevich, rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night to operate on her for the sixth time. He had barely changed out of his pajamas. My film sketches a situation. Situations that I don’t control. Life controls them.”
Now for the first time, Tal has directed a very political movie with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at its center. “Saving Nur,” which will be shown tonight on Channel 1, follows a little girl from Gaza who is seriously ill and needs a life-saving kidney and liver transplant. Her young parents, who have little money, manage to raise a million and a half shekels through an online campaign that attracts donations from Palestinians, Israelis and people from other countries. The sum is raised in just four months, something of small miracle.
Adding to the miraculous atmosphere are Jewish volunteers from Israel, bereaved parents who are members of the Parents Circle – Families Forum, who drive children from Gaza to hospitals in Israel. In one of the film’s peak moments, Nur’s mother Maha Hajj says that if her daughter should die following the liver transplant surgery, she would want her organs to be donated to Israelis first. This statement seems almost subversive considering that it comes from a Palestinian mother who needs to obtain countless permits in order to leave Gaza to get medical help for her child.
“I wanted to make a totally left-wing, political movie,” says Tal. “Yuval Roth, whose brother Udi Roth was murdered in the territories by three Hamas militants, was supposed to be the hero of the film. Shortly after his brother’s murder, he founded an organization that transports sick Palestinian children from the checkpoints and borders to hospitals in Israel. And his wife, Yael, is a steadfast member of the Women in Black who stand at the Gan Shmuel junction, holding signs that say ‘Evacuate the Settlements’ and ‘Free the Territories.’ I said to myself: ‘This is it, the time has come. Here are perfect characters for a film against the occupation.’ But darn it, wouldn’t you know it – instead of a leftist film I ended up with a ‘right-wing’ film that shows how wonderful and kind we are, helping sick Palestinians and driving them back and forth too.”
It is telling, but not surprising, that the filmmaker admits that she wanted to make an anti-Israel film to begin with.
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